During American Heart Month

How to help your heart and your wallet

Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in Iowa? In 2020 alone, Iowa had more than 23,000 hospitalizations and $1.4 billion in costs due to heart disease.

We know how hard it can be to stay on track financially when you don’t feel your best. It’s even harder to stay ahead when the average hospital stay for heart-related illnesses can be upwards of $100,000 depending on how long your stay is and how severe your condition is. Let us help you stay focused on your health and not your growing medical bills this American Heart Month with our best tips to benefit your health and wallet at the same time!

Stay Active

This tip is pretty obvious, but people tend to get caught up in the cost of traditional workouts which causes them to avoid physical exercise of any kind. You don’t need an expensive gym membership or the latest high-tech equipment to stay active. As long as you can get up to 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, you are well on your way to a healthier heart.

Some easy ways to get in your exercise without spending much (or any) money include:

  • Walking, running, or hiking outside. You can explore your neighborhood, go to a local park, or find some public walking trails. This is great for all skill levels because you can choose the pace that works best for you and you don’t have to worry about the cost of a personal trainer or group class.

One thing to note: If you do choose a public walking trail, make sure you don’t need a trail permit or pass to use it. You can check with your local Parks & Rec board or do some research online before you go.

  • Research free workouts online. If walking, running, or hiking isn’t for you, or if the weather is bad, indoor workouts are still possible without the gym. There are tons of free workout videos on YouTube from qualified instructors, as well as free apps you can download with a variety of training programs for all of your needs. Most of these videos are also tailored towards people who work out at home, meaning you’ll likely need little to no equipment to complete them (which is easier on your wallet). Just make sure you do some research so you know you’re getting a real fitness professional, not an influencer.
  • Get creative with your weights. If you’re interested in strength training but are worried about the expense of a full set of dumbbells, you’re not alone. If you want to work on your strength without the gym membership, try sharing the cost of weights with a friend who is also interested in weight training. You’ll have a workout partner and a full set of weights to use. If you can’t find anyone to split costs with, you can always try using household items, like jugs of water or cans of food. Test the weights of different items until you find the right fit for you.

Change your diet

Eating healthy can seem expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Fruits and vegetables may cost a bit more up front, but with a consistently healthy diet, you won’t have to spend as much money on trips to the doctor when you aren’t feeling well. You’ll also find that the proper foods will keep you full longer, giving you less reason to buy all those snacks that can run up your food bill. To keep your wallet in check, make sure you:

  • Develop a meal plan with simple, in-season ingredients. Out-of-season vegetables and fruits are often more expensive (and less tasty). A meal plan will also stop you from buying things you’ll throw in the fridge and forget about until it’s too late.
  • Skip the organic food. High prices don’t always mean the food is of better quality. You can often get the same nutritional value from non-organic options at a lower price.
  • Cook large batches of meals and freeze for the future. Casseroles and other oven-made dishes like lasagna not only have just a few ingredients that are easy to throw together, they’re also easy to freeze and store, so you can make tons of healthier meal options for nights when you might have turned to fast food instead.
  • Focus on eating lean meat (or less meat altogether). Beans and eggs are typically cheaper alternatives to meat that still offer you the protein you need. Per pound, these items are better buys and have great health benefits for your heart, gut, and more!

Switch your drink

Water is cheaper than most carbonated or sugary drinks you find at the store and is better for your heart. Sugary drinks are full of empty calories that can add pounds to your waistline and aren’t great for your teeth either. How can you save money by choosing water?

  • An initial investment in a reusable water bottle will save you tons of money when you’re out and about. Public water fountains can be found in many buildings and parks so you can fill up without spending any money on the go.
  • Don’t buy bottled water. Cases of bottled water can cost you several hundreds per year, and you’ll end up increasing the amount of waste you produce.
  • Buy a water filter. If you don’t like the taste of tap water but don’t want to buy bottled water either, a water filter is a great alternative. Even though it costs more money up front, over time you will save more than if you continue to buy bottled water.
  • Choose water when you go to a restaurant, it’s always free. Drinking water also helps you feel full faster and eat less, which is good for your health (and saves you money in food you would have purchased).

Stop smoking

Whether you’re a smoker or not, even if you are exposed to secondhand smoke regularly, you’re putting your heart at risk. As you know, cigarettes are not only bad for your health but expensive too. Quitting has great benefits for health and wallet, like:

  • Saving a little over $2,000 every year. Check out this handy calculator to see how much you could save by quitting smoking here.
  • The sooner you quit smoking, the sooner you’ll lower the risk of getting a variety of cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and other serious health problems. All of these health issues can add up in medical bills, medical equipment, and time spent away from work because you are sick.
  • Your health insurance and life insurance premiums will lower around six months after you quit using tobacco products, saving you money.
  • Once you stop smoking, your cleaning costs will start to go down as you won’t have to clean the walls, carpet, and clothes as often to get rid of that smoky smell. If you’re a renter, you’re more likely to get your deposit back if there’s less deep cleaning required.

Get good sleep

Consistently bad sleep can lead to several terrible side effects, including memory issues, mood changes, reduced immunity, high blood pressure, weight gain, increased risk of diabetes, and more. By getting more sleep, you’re saving money because:

  • You’re unable to make new purchases when you’re asleep.
  • The more sleep you get, the better your brain function will be, meaning you’ll make smarter financial decisions.
  • You aren’t able to eat when you’re asleep. Without the late-night snacking, you will save money on groceries and improve your health.
  • If you get more sleep, you’ll no longer need to purchase lots of caffeine-filled drinks to stay awake. Less caffeine will also improve the quality of your sleep each night, which benefits your overall health.
Moral of the story?

You don’t have to be a millionaire to put your health first. You may even find you save more money when you prioritize your health. By starting today, you’re already on your way to feeling better and being more financially secure. If you’re looking for other ways you can financially prepare for a serious medical event, talk to an Availa Banker today to learn more about our HSA options or to start an emergency savings account.